Today, we plan to spend the day in the city. In the appartment we found some flyers for free guided walking tours with different themes so we decide to do the tour through the Jewish quarter. Also definitely on the planning is the Schindler museum.
The day starts nice with a few clouds, although later in the day the weather forecast is not so dry….
After breakfast we walk into town. The appartment we rented is beautifully located just outside the center but it only takes you about a 10-minute walk along the Wisla river to get to the center.
First stop is Wawel castle, which was an important hub throughout history.
The castle is huge, located on a hill overlooking a bend in the Wisla river on one side and the city on the other.
When we walk around the castle, enjoying the views of the city, clouds are getting darker and we get our first thunderstorm of the day.
Today is June 21, the longest day of the year and that is an important day for the Poles. A lot of festivities will be going on this afternoon and evening and everyone is in full prep for them.
We head further into town.
The main market square and cloth hall are quite an impressive sight.
We shelter from the rain on the terrace of one of the restaurants at the square. Turns out that the people at the table next to us are a Belgiand father and son, citytripping in Krakow. They tell us that they visited Auschwitz the day before and what a humbling impression it left. They also visited the Schindler museum but the father didn’t think it was that interesting. We’ll see…
After lunch we walk further through town and buy ourselves a cheap umbrella. We will need it!
The free walking tour we want to take starts at the cathedral and we are pretty early at the designated spot. We meet our guide Ania and the freshly bought umbrella is put to good use as it starts pouring with rain.
The tour is taking us through the Jewish quarter of Krakow, and Ania tells us all about the history of the place and what happened here during the war.
The final stop of the tour is square in the center of the ghetto from which thousands of Jews were deported. The empty chairs are a gruesome sight and we can only imagine the drama that took place here.
The tour ends at the Schindler factory, now turned into a museum. By now the rain has stopped but we are soaked. Our guide offers us to give an additional tour through the museum for a small extra fee, so we gladly take it!
The museum is incredibly interesting, focussing mainly on the history on Krakow throughout the war, and not so much on the role Oskar Schindler has played. Every room and floor tells the story of the different measures taken against the people of Krakow, starting from the moment the Germans invade Poland in 1939 up to the end of the war in 1945 and afterwards.
Oskar Schindler only gets a small part in the museum. Although his role in saving Jews has a quite a dubious side, the fact remains that because of his actions, selfish or not, the bulk of the surviving Jews in Poland were workers at his factory.
By 6PM we are back outside with our heads full of impressions that will need some processing. It was in any case a good preparation for the visit to Auschwitz we have planned on Monday.
The walk back to the appartment seems endless… we walk along the river and we notice that there are quite some preparations going on for tonight’s fireworks. Ania also told us that they will be quite impressive so we decide to come and check them out later on.
We quickly buy some dinner at the local store and put up our feet for a bit. It has been quite a walk today. Arond 10.30PM we hear the first warning shots to announce the start of the fire works so we stroll down to the river and enjoy the fireworks from a distance;